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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I had the good fortune of going to London recently for a honeymoon shoot as part of Carrie and Jake’s wedding photography. We call it a honeymoon session, or a day after session, and we offer worldwide travel for these kinds of shoots, but this post is not about that. As usual, no matter where I go or why I am there, I always like to make personal photos along the way. I made these one night when my wife and I were at Picadilly Circus, scouting some nighttime locations for the upcoming shoot. I really enjoy shooting at night and searching out light to work with. I noticed these new ads for Rihanna’s Puma campaign and thought they would make a nice soft light for a night time portrait if the opportunity should arise. As I was looking around at all of the lighting options, soaking in this busy corner at night, I made a few frames of people passing by this Rihanna ad. Looking at the photos later found it striking that three different women all had similar hairstyles and were each carrying a purse on their shoulder in the same way. I think they go well together! And of course I’m a huge Rihanna fan.

Tips for photographers: Keep your camera with you all the time. Countless photographers have given me this advice, countless times, but it never fails to amaze me that the second I don’t have my camera something catches my eye to photograph. I have recently started switching from Canon to Sony for this very reason: my Canon is too big of a beast to carry around casually and I found myself shooting on my iphone more than anything. When I saw these new smaller mirrorless camera bodies for the first time I knew it was the answer to my problem of leaving my camera behind, and I quickly settled in on Sony as the brand of choice, specifically the A7 series of full frame cameras and Zeiss lenses. Now I have a very small kit with the Sony A7ii and a few Zeiss lenses that can go anywhere with me, and it’s the only camera I carry when I’m travelling overseas. Often I will simply grab my A7ii with a 35mm on it and go. I’m not saying you should switch cameras, but just do whatever it takes to keep a camera with you and be ready for pictures when they happen in front of you.

I am Paul Bellinger, one of Montana’s much sought after wedding photographers. My studio is located in downtown Billings Montana, and I am available for any wedding destination around the world. I put everything I have into making the wedding pictures of your dreams, and I’ll go anywhere and do anything to make those dreams come true. From the mountains to the islands, there is no wedding destination too far or too difficult for me and my team of wedding photographers. Get in touch with us at www.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Wow, this was an awesome wedding from top to bottom. It was beautiful, unique, and so much fun for everyone in attendance. Alysse and Daniel definitely know how to throw a party in style. This is just one of the many jaw-dropping views at the Big Yellow Barn outside of Bozeman MT. Consider this a sneak peek of things to come. Special thanks to the bride and groom and all of their family and friends for being so cool, Meredith Curtin and her team for coordinating the day so wonderfully, and my army of one, Zak Jokela for shooting along side of me.

Tips for brides: This one is straight from Alysse and she coined this phrase. Instead of being "bride-zilla" just relax and be "bride-chilla"! Ha! I love that!

Paul Bellinger Photography is based in Billings Montana and specializes in epic, fine art, wedding photography. We are dedicated to making beautiful pictures and will go anywhere and do anything to make the wedding artwork of your dreams. Contact us for your destination wedding here: www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, September 25, 2015


This was a fun headshot to make for model/dancer/photographer Keoni, who is also a new assistant at Paul Bellinger Photography. Keoni has been helping out in the studio and frequently sits in to model for lighting tests so that everything is ready when clients arrive and they can be in and out quickly. Usually the night before a client shoot I will have Keoni come in to the studio and help me plan the shoot and set up the various lighting arrangements that I will use the next day. But sometimes we just like to experiment with new looks, such as this one, which was inspired from an actor headshot in Vanity Fair by photographer Cyrill Matter. This is a wonderful headshot look for people in creative professions, or anyone who wants a very soft and approachable look, and it works well with formal or informal clothing options. The lighting is crisp, yet the focus is soft, so it’s a very unique look that will stand out from the rest of the crowd. Visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to book a sitting in our downtown Billings Montana portrait studio.

Tips for photographers: The setup for this photo is inspired by a portrait of Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis by Cyrill Matter in the September 2015 issue of Vanity Fair. Cyrill’s image is a crisp black and white with very shallow depth of field, big soft front lighting with quick falloff and a little bit of back lighting to highlight the edges of the actor’s face. I found the look to be very striking, and it was the most remarkable image in the issue to me, and so I bought a copy pretty much just for that one photo (the rest of the issue wasn’t that great in my opinion). The Day-Lewis portrait is the first image you see on Cyrill’s website here: www.cyrillmatter.com. The photo reminds me of a quote from David Bailey: “I just want very sophisticated passport pictures really - which are quite hard to do!" Mission accomplished Cyrill.

To replicate the look, my first thought was to use window light so that I could shoot at a wide aperture for shallow depth of field, and the catchlight in Cyrill’s portrait kind of looks like a window or a big soft box directly behind the photographer, slightly to the camera right to give just a touch of shadow on one side for added dimension. To create the edge light I used two silver reflectors behind Keoni out of frame on each side (I use the metallic side of the insulation Styrofoam you can get at a hardware store or lumber yard). The background is a 4x8 foot white reflector about two feet behind Keoni. I’ll post a bts setup selfie on instagram @PJBellinger if you’re curious to see. This photo was made with a Sony A7ii, Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens at f/2, 1/160th of a second and ISO 200.

Overall I like the look, it’s very clean and crisp, yet soft and unusual with the shallow depth of field that will certainly stand out of the corporate headshot crowd. It’s easy to setup and the shallow depth of field makes retouching a breeze. The one drawback is that shooting with such shallow depth of field makes getting the eyes sharp a little tricky, so you have to know how to focus your camera very accurately. For studio work I always use manual focus with the focus peeking feature and manual focus assist on the Sony A7ii, which essentially zooms in on the image in the electronic viewfinder so you can check focus very accurately, especially when the eyes light up with focus peeking. I really like this feature and it’s fun to shoot in manual and it’s also fun to nail the focus every time. These features are some of the main perks of having an electronic viewfinder.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I love to travel and I love to make portraits of the people I meet along the way. It’s always special, but these portraits are extra special because this is my grand Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ken. Aunt Bonnie is my grandpa’s sister, the aunt of my dad and his siblings. She’s always lived in Alaska since I’ve known her and we don’t see her very often as a result, even though she’s always been special because she’s the much younger and better looking only sister of my grandpa and their brother. Bonnie and Ken graciously hosted my cousin and I on our great Alaskan roadtrip when we were in Fairbanks for a day and a half, showing us some warm Alaskan hospitality. They gave us the family treatment, complete with hot breakfasts for two mornings and two hot showers each. It was a relief after driving relentlessly for just over 4 days. They shared some fantastic stories about my grandpa and my dad’s generation, and they made time to sit for me briefly before taking us out to dinner. I’m very happy to have been able to make these portraits of my family and these portraits will always remind me of the importance of having beautiful photos of the people you love, and I’ll never take it for granted. Thank you for sitting for me Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ken, and thanks for the hospitality you showed us!

Tips for photographers: These photos are lit using window light with no modifiers of any kind. The room was basically white, but we closed all of the other windows and doors and there was enough distance behind the subject for the light to falloff into black. This was only possible because I made the falloff extremely fast by placing the subject as close to the light source as possible, which was basically in my lap. Yes these were intimate portraits in more ways than one. Looking back at these photos I noticed they looked a little different, with Ken’s having more contrast and detail and Bonnie’s being a little softer. The apertures are 2.8 for Ken and 2.2 for Bonnie, so I thought that was it. But then I noticed that I actually changed lenses between these two portraits (which seems crazy remembering how fast these were made), using the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 for Ken and the Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2 for Bonnie. The differences are pretty obvious so I’ll just leave it up to you to decide which look you prefer. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Sunday, September 20, 2015


If you’re going to drive to Alaska there is pretty much only one way in and one way out, and that’s the Alaska Highway from the Yukon Territories of Canada. After passing the huge St. Elias Mountains of Kluane National Park in the Yukon, you’re greeted by the Nutzotin Mountains just across the border in Alaska (pictured here). If it’s a clear day you can also see the massive Wrangell Mountains further in the distance behind the Nutzotin, but they weren’t visible when we arrived. Be warned, the Alaska highway is pretty rough for the last few hours in the Yukon and flat tires are common. We managed to make it just across the border into Alaska before getting our only flat tire of the 14 day trip. It was sprinkling and there was a beautiful sunset on the horizon, so naturally I photographed the sunset while my esteemed colleague, driver and cousin Chris (aka C-Unit) changed the tire. We were in need of a break from the road anyway and I ended up making a few of my favorite photos from the entire trip, so thank you tire gods! And thanks to Chris for being the craziest and best driver a photographer could ever hope to have.

Tips for photographers: This is a three image panorama that I photographed handheld from the road. I know that sounds bad right?! How lazy! But I’ve increasingly turned into a roadside landscape photographer, using a long lens to pick out landscapes from the road like a poacher dropping big game from a truck. Wow that doesn’t sound like a good comparison! We were on the road for two weeks during this trip, and we did a lot of run and gun, pull over and shoot stops. I know this is not a recipe for success. To make a great landscape photo usually requires hard work to get to an epic location, and then patience to wait for the light, two things that take a lot of time that we did not have. So what was the end result? Well I made at least one good photo this way, and I’m sure I’ll find a few others, but those are far and few between. Chances are, if you’re shooting from the road, with no tripod, you’re not going to make anything very special unless you get lucky.

I am Montana based wedding and portrait photographer Paul Bellinger. I love to travel and our motto at Paul Bellinger Photography is that we will go anywhere and do anything for our clients. There is no wedding too big, too small, or too far for us to travel for, and we’ll gladly make your portrait on top of a mountain as well. Please visit www.paulbellinger.com for destination weddings in Montana or anywhere in the world, and www.portraits.paulbellinger.com for our portrait studio in Billings Montana.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Meeting new people is one of my favorite things about travel and of course I tend to meet a lot of photographers. I met Ilan on a day cruise from Valdez Alaska to the Meares glacier in the Prince William Sound. For long portions of the cruise we had the whole bow of the boat to ourselves, as only photographers want to be out there in the wind and cold (although it wasn’t very cold, there was a guy wearing only shorts and T-shirt who toughed it out most of the day too). We hit it off and were chatting most of the day about photography and travel, and when the cruise was over I told him where we were headed for sunset/camp for the night in case he wanted to meet up and shoot the sunset with us. We went our separate ways and I thought I had seen the last of Ilan as we headed up Thompson Pass to photograph the sunset. It was a beautiful sunset, and when it was nearly over I saw someone pull up and start quickly hiking towards us. It was Ilan! He missed most of the sunset because he spotted some bears on the way up and photographed them for a bit. I was mostly done shooting the sunset so I just hung out and made a few pictures of Ilan while he made a few pictures the mountains and the rising moon. It was a fun day hanging with Ilan and I really hope our paths cross again on a future adventure. Thanks Ilan!

Tips for photographers: These photos were made after the sun went down during blue hour. I say blue hour, but during Alaskan summers blue hour lasts for hours, almost all night depending on where you are. In the top photo you can see eye to eye with the majestic Chugach Mountains surrounding Thompson pass. The Chugach are a very picturesque range, which are especially dramatic from Valdez at sea level. The bottom photo features a very bright moon on it’s way up during moonrise. Summers in Alaska are great for photographers because the sunset lasts for hours and there is plenty of light in the sky to make blue hour long exposures all night long. The one drawback is that the sky is so bright with sun and moon light that it’s difficult to see the stars or do any kind of astrophotography, which is kind of a shame because there is a lot of aurora activity that far North.

I really enjoy making photos like these that combine two of my passions in photography, the drama of the landscape and the power and prestige of the portrait. I have a deep respect for nature and can’t ever stop exploring the natural wonders of the world (especially mountains). But landscapes are lonely without people in them and to make a portrait in the special places that people go through such great efforts to reach only enhances the power of the portrait. That’s why travel is such an integral part of Paul Bellinger Photography, we want to go to the places that are special to our clients and make pictures that simply cannot be made anywhere else. For destination weddings in Montana or anywhere in the world, please visit Montana wedding photographer www.paulbellinger.com. For the hardest working portrait photographer in Montana please visit Billings Montana portrait photographer www.portraits.paulbellinger.com.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


McKenzie and Tyrel are having a mountain wedding and wanted a mountain engagement session to go with it. Since they are getting married in West Rosebud, we did the engagement shoot in East Rosebud. Both sides have beautiful views of the Beartooth mountains that can rival mountain views anywhere. The Eastern side of the Beartooths are kind of a Billings area secret paradise that not many tourists visit. The motto of the nearest town, Roscoe Montana, is: “Where the hell is Roscoe?” How cool is that?! I can’t wait to get back and spend a few days in the Beartooths for McKenzie and Tyrel’s mountain wedding in October!

Tips for brides: It’s time to start booking your wedding photographer for 2016 weddings in Montana. We typically book about a 8-12 months in advance of a wedding and the fall seems to be the booking season when a lot of the best wedding days get booked. Because the wedding season is short in Montana, summer Saturdays go fast, and it’s not just the best photographers, but all of the best wedding venues and wedding vendors book up early in Montana. Personally I find the fall to be the most beautiful time of year in Montana, so you might think about avoiding the crowds and push your luck into September, October and even November for a more adventurous Montana wedding. Some vendors may even offer a discount for booking a wedding date in the fall/winter/spring. It also seems like we have a shortage of wedding venues in the Billings Montana area, so I highly recommend thinking outside of the box like McKenzie and Tyrel have, and having a mountain wedding, because there is no shortage of mountain meadows that would make for a unique and jaw dropping wedding location. Please contact us if you’re interested! We love mountain weddings at Paul Bellinger Photography! www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, August 28, 2015


Congratulations to Carrie and Jake on their black-tie wedding in Billings Montana! Carrie did a wonderful job planning the big day and it went off without a hitch, bringing together two awesome families in a celebration of love and the start of a new family. I love the contrast in this image between the rustic scene on Jake's family farm and their black tie look. I am blessed that they shared this most special of occasions with me and the team at Paul Bellinger Photography. Thank you Carrie, Jake and all of the family and friends that helped make the day so special!

Thank you also to my team of incredible photographers Jenna Masters, Trevan Hiersche for your hard work. For Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger please visit www.paulbellinger.com.

I can’t wait to meet up with Carrie and Jake for a photo shoot on their honeymoon in London! I’ll be in London for 7 days, and of course I’ll be photographing everything. We travel a lot at Paul Bellinger Photography and you can follow along on instagram by following @PJBellinger or click the link: https://instagram.com/pjbellinger/

Monday, August 24, 2015


Montana is an amazing place, and as impressive as the big sky is in the day, it’s even more magical at night. I recently made a huge road trip to Alaska, and despite seeing so many beautiful places in Alaska, Yukon Territories and British Columbia, Montana was still impressive when we returned home. After watching the sun go down outside of Glacier National Park, we stopped near Belt Montana to view the Milky Way and make a few pictures. We really wanted to make some star photos on our trip but it became more and more difficult the further North we went, because the sun doesn’t really go down very far in the summer and there is too much light in the sky to see the stars. But Montana saved the day on our last night of the road trip and gave us a spectacular view of the Milky Way practically from the highway. Wow, it’s awesome to call Montana home!

Tips for photographers: Photographing the night sky is fun and it’s something every photographer should go out and do sometime. There is a lot written about astrophotography and you can get the impression that it’s difficult, or requires special gear and techniques. I found it pretty easy, even using pretty bad glass for night photography. I made this photo with a Canon 17-40 f/4 L lens and Sony A7ii camera body. A faster lens, f/2.8 or wider, would be ideal for night photography, but I was able to make do with f/4 because the sky was especially bright in Montana. The best tip I can give is to use a really heavy duty tripod that won’t blow around in the wind during 5-15 second exposures and is easy to operate in the dark. It helps a lot if your tripod is really tall too, so you can see what you’re doing without bending over all night. More than anything, just go out and try it with whatever gear you have, it’s a lot of fun!

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger and I love to travel for weddings. I go anywhere and do anything for our clients. There is no wedding too big or too small, and no wedding destination that is too remote or extreme for us. My studio is located in downtown Billings Montana and it would be my honor to photograph your Montana wedding or destination wedding anywhere in the world. Visit www.paulbellinger.com for dramatic, fine art wedding photography as epic as your love story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Alysse and Daniel have raised the bar on engagement sessions! They are just so badass as people that I guess they couldn’t help but have an amazing shoot at their Bozeman home surrounded by mountains and farm animals, and then topped that by heading into the Bridger mountains and a beautiful alpine lake. Thank you Alysse and Daniel for hanging with me and showing me your special spots! I can’t wait for your Bozeman wedding! Stay tuned for more from this epic shoot soon.

Awesome people in awesome locations! That should probably be our motto at Paul Bellinger Photography because our couples love going to badass locations and we will go anywhere and do anything with them to make the best wedding and engagement pictures possible. We are located in Billings Montana and offer worldwide travel for engagement sessions, destination weddings, and honeymoon sessions. www.paulbellinger.com